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IBM aims Linux at financial companies

Big Blue on Thursday will announce the opening of a technology center geared to lure financial services companies to servers using the Linux operating system.

IBM on Thursday will announce the opening of a technology center geared to lure financial services companies to servers using the Linux operating system.

IBM initially will fund the New York center located in the Manhattan area with $1 million, helping financial services companies move their software to Linux computers, the company said. Though the company didn't disclose how many employees will work in the center, other IBM facilities for helping customers and companies develop their software typically have 12 to 50 employees.

Big Blue, whose Linux customers include more than 40 financial services companies, is among a host of companies using Linux to try to steal business from Sun Microsystems, which has long enjoyed strong sales to brokerages. Intel and Reuters on Wednesday broadened an alliance signed in May with Hewlett-Packard to advance a Linux version of its server software for exchanging financial information. The broader alliance includes more marketing and joint development work.

But where HP chiefly boosts Linux on its Intel servers, IBM also is pushing its use on its pSeries Unix servers, its iSeries special-purpose servers and most significantly its zSeries mainframes.

At the New York Linux Center of Competence, IBM will provide Linux training and educational services, technical advice, and access to IBM hardware and software. Others contributing products to the center include SunGard, JD Edwards, Veritas Software and Sybase.

Red Hat, the leading seller of Linux, also is trying to encourage customers to switch from Sun servers running Solaris to Linux. However, changing hardware, translating software and retraining personnel is expensive, analysts say.

One company that has bought into Linux is Credit Suisse First Boston, which has installed high-end Intel servers from start-up Egenera.